Category Archives: Other Systems

Barbarians of the Ruined Earth Character Sheet and Restructuring How I Organize My Games

This morning Matt Hildebrand sent me an updated version of the Barbarians character sheet and I wanted to throw it up on the blog.

The Kickstarter Update

The Kickstarter is progressing well and we still have 23 days left! We are currently hovering at the $8.5k mark. So there’s still a ways to go until funding, but I’m hopeful!

Reorganizing My How I Run My Games

This subject will feed into a longer series of posts, but I wanted to kick it off here. Due to RL obligations with work, DIY RPG Productions projects, and other general assfuckery, I’ve lost the wind in my sails to run my games.

There are several factors in this (stress, anxiety, burnout, work, not enough time to run or play in shit, etc.), but for this post I just want to focus on the fact that I am unhappy with how I’ve been running my games lately and how I’ve been organizing. So rather than continue to be frustrated and wallow in the murky mire that is self-pity, I decide to examine what I was doing and what I didn’t like and where I could go from there.

First- I’m not a huge fan of having my notes digital. I do it, because I hate wasting paper, but I have to have all these word documents and PDFs open, then I have to scroll through everything, and it just becomes tedious.

Awhile back I tried to bridge the gap by keeping important stuff in a notebook, but nope. Now I had notes all over the computer AND in a fucking notebook- that equaled more work.

Recently I’ve been thinking of how I used to organize my notes when I started RPGing back in mid-90s and into my college years and remembered I used to use 3×5 note cards for all my shit and kept my notes super lite.

This weekend I decided to read through Sly Flourish’s Lazy Dungeon Master and Return of the Lazy Dungeon Master to see if he had any thoughts/advice that hadn’t occurred to me. The book is a fun read and while it isn’t anything groundbreaking (I do recommend the books), it did remind me of a similar way I used to run my games and had some advice with a few new tips and tricks- that’s a win!

Also Skullfungus posted his notebook on Twitter about dungeon design and it was a great reminder on keeping shit simple (so thanks for that!). Along with nods to Goblin Punch and Grognardia.

I’m going full-on organized by index cards and taking the Lazy DM approach of only what is absolutely needed. A few other categories have wormed their way in since I took this picture (being items, previous adventures, and one more- but fuck all I can’t remember).

My Barbarians of the Ruined Earth group has been adventuring in the Western Sands for the past seven sessions (we only get to play once a month and we haven’t played in three months now…) and I don’t see them leaving the area anytime soon.

While tracking everything on note cards won’t be any different than how I currently write my games- in short hand and lite to keep the players and their agency the focus, I think that my way of organizing has become a sloppy mess, like the floor at a rest stop bathroom.

Once I get all the cards written, I plan on typing them up and releasing them for free on the blog to anyone who is interested and wants to run a game in BotRE and the Western Sands.

The Western Sands


Barbarians the Ruined Earth: Episode 4- The Terror of Isotope, Part 3- The Finale

We continue the adventures of our heroes as the enter the vile Sorcerer Isotope’s Devastation Machine!

The Players

Note: All these classes linked on my blog are the old versions and several changes have been made to the final product.

Angie- Isosceles the Sorcerer

Emma- Robbie the Robot

Nate- Pongo the Armadite

Sami- A Death Priest

Kevin- Short Round the Urban Urchin

Jamie- Kermie the Toad Beastman

Katie- Xena the Barbarian

Brian- A Vek

Note: I’m still a jerk because I got busy and never looked up Brian’s and and Sami’s characters names.

Part one here and part two here.

What is Wrong With Your Brain…?

The session started with the group at full hit points, standing at the entrance of the Devastation, located at the base of this monstrous metallic pyramid.  Short Round opened the door and was immediately blasted out of the way by a large laser beam.  

Two robotic heads, the size of a child, emerged from the door.  The heads didn’t float, but instead walked on robotic arms attached to their heads where there ears should be.  

One of the robots turned to Xena the Barbarian and opened its mouth.  A high pitched screech issued, stunning the barbarian for a moment.  In the moment of confusion, the second robot turned to Isosceles and blasted her with a laser beam from its mouth.  

Aside from those two lucky shots, the group rolled really well and kicked the shit out of the robot heads.  After the fight the group asked where I came up with those enemies and I said, “I had a dream about them.”

Someone (most likely my wife, I think) said, “What is wrong with your brain?”  After a few jokes about my brain and a few laughs, we moved on.


Note: You can find all my images on my Instagram, if ya are interested.

The first floor was dilapidated, dark, and ruined. It looked like repairs were underway, but weren’t very far along. The group had fun on the first floor, mostly with the Pot-bellied Pig Raider. I described the little anthropomorphic piggie baddie with a stomach that hung down between its legs and dragged behind it like a wet, deployed parachute. That grossed them out- win for me. Someone had a vomit bomb, can’t remember who, and threw it in the room causing the Pot-bellied Pig Raider to begin barfing its brains out, taking a little bit of damage.

The group rushed in and made quick work of the porker (I was REALLY bummed that I didn’t get to use its swallow whole ability. I think there would have been something said, about a human creature squirming in its belly as it bobbed around attacking people with a huge cleaver… but alas!). The group then had to deal with two new head with arm sentries, but instead of walking on the ground, these had propeller arms coming out of their ears and fired lasers from its mouth from afar.

After the battle, the group decided NOT to look the Pot-bellied Pig Raider, giving the corpse a wide berth… but Emma did loot the propeller arms to attach to her robotic body at a later date.

The second room of note was the room with more art work of Isotope going through the various stages of aging, to then become young and start the process over again.

After the floor was explored, they stepped onto a teleporter and ascended to the second floor.

Second Floor

Like the first floor, this floor was in a state of repair, but looked much more put together. Lights worked, the floors and walls were cleaner, etc. The group hit all the rooms in the second floor (as there were only four, might be a little sad if they didn’t:P). The group was horrified at the room of thousands of urns, which they believed held the remains of those Isotope siphoned the life out of to remain young.

They freed the slaves from the pens, convinced a few to help them fight Isotope, and met a young man named Vin, who told them if they were ever at Nukatomi Plaza, to visit him in the Park Block.

In the Ceremonial room they were happy to find some Stupendous Science items, but didn’t have time to analyze them.

With the the second floor clear, they hopped onto another teleporter and ascended to the third, and final, floor.

Third Floor

The group appeared in a large open room, pristine compared to the first two floors. Against the far northern wall and attached to the ceiling was a large metal orb with wires and transistors protruding from it. Underneath a woman was strapped into a machine and she was screaming, lighting and energy arcing off her body, traveling up the wires to the transistors above. Another second later and a pile of ash was all that remained of the woman.

A powerful voice filled the room, “Who dares enter the chambers of the great Sorcerer, Isotope?!”

The metallic orb split open and a man with stern features, clad in purple clothing and an intricate octagonal purple helmet with a red game at the crest, floated to the floor.

“You are like insects to me! I am a god amongst the weak! Forever! Eternal!”

The group shouted some shit about only being able to live because he was stealing the life force of others and that he was a bad, bad man!

Isotope shouted a cliche super-villain response like, “I will show you power!” or something and small fleshy tendrils began to grow from his fingernails, each ending with a small bulb, like a tulip (think of the the old Stretch Armstrong dolls when you’d pull the arms really far… or silly putty, come to think of it). The tendrils grew about 15′ long and the bulbs opened like flowers, revealing tiny infant-like hands. The infantile hands slapped on the ground, sounding like wet lunch meet hitting pavement, raising Isotope high into the air.

And with that, we rolled initiative. This fight was pretty brutal. The group had only fought robots and raiders up until this point and I’ve never thrown them against a Sorcerer. He blasted them with radiation beams (Xena the Barbarian became mutated and now has a forked tongue she can make attacks up to 10′ away with it… lucky). He hit them with telekinesis, lasers, summoned more sentries, energy webs, and more. It was an awesome fight and when Xena landed the last blow, it was very satisfying.

Xena drove her blade into Isotope’s stomach; he leaned into the blade, blood trickling from his mouth, “there is worse in this dessert than me. You will be sorry for what you have done.” His flesh flaked, cracked, and crumbled to dust. Short Round was quick to pick up his helmet (which had become damaged during the fight).

Alarms began ringing and a low rumble was felt in the floor plates. The group vacated the Devastation Machine with all due haste. We flashed forward to the group standing at the edge of the Snakeman Village, watching in awe as the Isotope’s Devastation Machine shook off the sand; the metallic pyramid gleamed in the sunlight. Near the top of the pyramid, where’s its ears should be (heh) on all four sides, huge portals opened and massive metal tubes telescoped out, hands forming on the ends, slamming into the ground, lifting the mammoth structure up.

The group watched as Isotope’s Devastation Machine began lumbering across the Western Sands.

“Well that’s something you don’t see every day…” Said Short Round.

With that we leveled up and ended the session.

Aside: This was a great end to the session! We only get to play once a month, so it is quite an exercise in patience for me wait so long to see all this shit come to fruition, but man it’s worth it 😀

Barbarians of the Ruined Earth Preface

I’ve gotten a few email/messages asking questions about what Barbarians of the Ruined Earth is all about, so I decided to put up the book’s Preface that will be in the book to answer some of these questions.

Hope you enjoy!


May of 2015 and 2016 brought great moments of massive inspiration for me.  In May of 2015, Mad Max: Fury Road roared onto the big screen and about made me pee my pants, I loved it so much.  Like LOVED.IT. Like it’s on the same level as the original Star Wars trilogy for me. Watching that movie was like seeing the constant inner monologue of my brain- all the thrash and drone of heavy metal, the imagery from amazing punk rock and heavy metal albums, magazines and smaller zines, and the disgusting, grimy, yet sexy and borderline indecent, dystopian future-feel I love so much- playing on a theater screen.  A blind, toothless albino dude who shreds some metal on a guitar that spews fire?! Ummm, yes please!

In May of 2016, I was hanging with Wayne Snyder (It’s Wizard Time, motherfuckers!) and he asked if I’d ever seen Thundarr the Barbarian.  I told him no and he was all, “Well guess what we’re watching next!” I could tell he was really stoked to get to expose me to this show… and oh man, is it good.  Thundarr the Barbarian is the Saturday morning cartoon equivalent of Mad Max: Fury Road. It’s weird, crazy, and amazing! It’s battling beast creatures on a bridge of light suspended over a volcano!  It’s a mad wizard with hundreds of eyeballs spewing lightning bolts at his adversaries! It’s ape-men bringing a giant animatronic ape creature to life, so they destroy a village of tiny people! It’s my jam.  Thanks Wayne!

While several other influences went into Barbarians of the Ruined Earth, really- it’s these two that fueled much of my inspiration.  With that said, you won’t find a whole lot of fluff or history in this book; that’s not the point of it. I hope the art, classes, monsters, random tables, and sample territory relay that information while still being useful at the table.

Barbarians, much like its sources of inspiration, is meant to be fast-paced, epic, and bizarre.  It’s a Saturday morning cartoon, sans the plot armor; best enjoyed with a smile and a big bowl of sugary cereal.  Adventures don’t need to make sense, be rational, or have a sense of realism (honestly- best leave all that shit at the door).  The world is twisted, untamed, and dangerous: hideous creatures burble and roar, thrashing through the world like an energized mechanical bull blasting through a china shop.  Sorcerer’s dress like they are straight out of a 1980’s WWF wrestling match, a luchador, or wearing some grand Alexander McQueen Avante Garde design. They (and other villains) are nefarious, giggling in delight at inflicting pain or stamping their feet while shouting dastardly plans; you know, some weird/fun tongue in cheek and overly complicated game of cat-and-mouse.

Your players will pit themselves against Animated Trash Men that fling kitchen sinks or wet globs of toilet paper at them, make uneasy deals with Strange Ones for safe passage through some bizarre and dangerous area, free slaves that toil endlessly picking Sorrow Tulips for their cruel masters, and of course just straight up fucking over evil Sorcerer’s who come pelvic thrusting into the world, tongue out, devil horns in the air while they blaze a trail of destruction in their Devastation Machine.

All that I hope is that Barbarians brings you and your group some great (and bizarre) fun, smiles, and laughs.

Grab some friends.  Grab some dice. Keep rolling… “– Mike Evans

Been Bloggin’ For 10 Years, Hubris Went Platinum and Here’s More Barbarians Art!

I got a notification from WordPress this AM- “Congratulations! You’ve been blogging for 10 years!” That is crazy! I can’t believe I’ve been blogging for that long! It’s been a wonderful (albeit sometimes stressful) experience.

Because of blogging and communities like RPG Bloggers and the now deader than a door nail G+ community, I’ve gotten to meet some really kick ass people! I’ve become close friends with several of them and am so thankful for all of this.

Meeting many of you at Gen Con has been a thrill and a great time and I look forward to this coming Gen Con to reconnect, cuddle, and toss back a few pints of beer!

Because of blogging I was encouraged (and able) to start a publishing company with works that people enjoy, support, and are excited about.

Because of blogging I was able to rekindle a love for a hobby that I was on the way to MAJOR burnout and getting ready to shelve it…

Thanks to everyone for the support and reading! Whether you are new to my blog or have been with me the whole time. I appreciate you.

Ok- enough gushing.

Hubris: A World of Visceral Adventure

I went on to Drivethru the other day to look at new books and decided to scan through my publishing catalogue to see if there were any new reviews or comments and lo and behold! I discovered that Hubris: A World of Visceral Adventure has gone Platinum! Blew my mind! I am fucking thrilled that so many people dig this book!

On the Hubris front, Jez Gordon has finished preliminary layout on the first Hubris module- Orcs! A High Octane Adventure! for 3rd level characters. Once Barbarians of the Ruined Earth Kickstarter is complete (that’ll launch in June, I’m thinking), I’ll be able to focus more of my attention on getting art and stuff for that!

Barbarians of the Ruined Earth

Speaking of Barbarians– I’ve got some new art to share! These are two new pieces by JV West!

Aside: If you are interested in seeing sample spreads of the book, click here. If you want to see all art I’ve shared from the book, click here.

Hirelings found in the Ruined Earth- Art by JV West

Zora the Barbarian gets bashed by a Car Golem while Rathu the Sorcerer and Atook the Beastman are lost in the creature’s toxic smog.

Barbarians the Ruined Earth: Episode 3- The Terror of Isotope, Part 2


Note: All these classes linked on my blog are the old versions and several changes have been made to the final product.

Angie- Isosceles the Sorcerer

Emma- Robbie the Robot

Nate- Pongo the Armadite

Sami- A Death Priest

Kevin- Short Round the Urban Urchin

Jamie- Kermie the Toad Beastman

Katie- Xena the Barbarian

Brian- A Vek

Note: I’m still a jerk because I got busy and never looked up Brian’s and and Sami’s characters names.

Sneaking Around a Dangerous Situation

Note: Previous session here.

We continue our Barbarians of the Ruined Earth adventures with my my group raring to go, so we jumped right into the action this session!  The group started on the outskirts of the Snakemen Village; several large sand dunes dotted the landscape, with a central pyramid-shaped one in the middle.  Steam could be seen issuing from a fissure in the ground by it. 

I placed the map of the Snakmen village in front of the group. Their map just showed “Dunes”, “Violet Cactus Field”, “Animal Pen”, “Carrion Cage”, and “Slave Pen.”

I designed this to be run quickly and generate what the hell was in each area on the fly (cause fuck if I know where my group is gonna go).

Anyways, I slapped the unlabeled map down and tell them that they have done a preliminary scouting around the perimeter of the village and this is what they see.

The Group Makes a Plan… And Skips Most of- well… EVERYTHING

After a quick discussion the group decides to approach the town from the South and approach the animal pen. Inside they saw a hybrid-animal that was the body of a pig with hundreds of earthworms spewing from the beast’s shoulders and surrounding its head. The group decided NOT to open the pen and let the creatures out, as they were too creepy.

The group headed Northeast and slowly approached the slave pen. They used their Charisma to excite the slaves before setting them free, hoping it would provide a distraction. It did.

Capitalizing on the distraction, the group entered one of the active dunes and were attacked by a Sandstriker lying in wait. The group made quick work of the snakeman and discovered a tunnel leading underground.

The group decides they don’t want to explore any more of the upper village and instead wanted to delve into the depths. The group moved slowly, with Nate taking point to sense any vibrations of hidden enemies. Nate felt two snakemen lying in wait, hoping to ambush the party.

The group charged in and perished the snakemen in most expeditious fashion. In the room they noted tapestries of a man with powerful and stern features lining the walls, figuring it was the visage of the Sorcerer, Isotope. They set them on fire and moved down the left tunnel, before making a right and coming upon the base of a gigantic metal pyramid. Standing at attention at a door were two more Sandstriker.

The group had a little more trouble with this fight and both Sandstrikers passed their Die-hard save. Sami was dropped to zero HP twice and two other PCs were dropped to low HP before the Sandstrikers were killed.

The group made their way back to the room with the tapestries, barricaded the doors, and took a rest to heal up and refresh abilities.

We ended the session there for the evening. It was a fun, albeit quick, session. The first combats went by too easily with some great rolls by the players, so I was happy to have one present more of a challenge at the end.

Aside: This session highlights why I like easy, randomly generated dungeons. My group chose a direction and made their way and it bypassed damn near everything. While I admit that is frustrating it some ways, it’s also important (to me, at least) that dungeons have multiple entrances, tunnels, secrets, etc. My group could have made the choice to explore every nook and cranny (and find some fat loot), but they didn’t. But it also doesn’t mean I need to stat up and describe every room either :P.

Next Session: The group makes their way into Isotope’s Devastation Machine!

Barbarians of the Ruined Earth Art

More art has poured in from some amazing artists for Barbarians of the Ruined Earth! I’m getting closer to launching a kickstarter for the book. I have a few odds and ends I need to wrap up for it and once my RL work calms down, I’ll have more time to focus on all of this.

I wanted to do a post capturing the art of the book! I’m so fucking thrilled with what these talented artists have illustrated for me. Some of these have already been shared on my blog, others haven’t:)

Note: These will also be posted to my Instagram as well.

Edit: Added these two new pieces 4/15/19

Some hirelings found in the Ruined Earth- Art by JV West

Zora the Barbarian gets bashed by a Car Golem while Rathu the Sorcerer and Atook the Beastman are lost in the creature’s toxic smog.

Here is where the original blog post started

Zora the Barbarian deals the final blow to a hideous Goat-snake! Art by JV West!
Rahtu the Sorcerer is being choked by a horrifying mummy while Zora and Atook obliviously scout ahead for danger. Art by JV West.
Weaponized Animals can be used to deadly effects against foes. This was totally inspired by Pirates of Dark Water. Art by JV West.
A ramshackle human village is attacked by a cursed chunk of the moon! Art by JV West.

Pig Raiders roar through the wastes of the Ruined Earth. Art by David Lewis Johnson.

Village of the Winged Mutant People. Art by Kelvin Green.
The three heroes take on a mutant riding in a piece of Stupendous Science, the Devastator!

Zora and Rathu look on in horror as the Horrible Bear Monster swallows the sun, casting the earth in darkness for a whole year. Art by Kelvin Green.

The earth as we know it was destroyed when an alien planetoid slammed into our moon. Art by Kelvin Green.
The Western Wastes- what is currently LA and Santa Monica. Art by Kelvin Green.
The Beastman class pic. Art by Matthew Adams.

The Death Priest class pic. Art by Matthew Adams.
The Robot class pic. Art by Matthew Adams.
The Scavenger class pic. Art by Matthew Adams.
The Sorcerer class pic. Art by Matthew Adams.
The Urchin class pic. Art by Matthew Adams.
The Vek class pic. Art by Matthew Adams.

Barbarians the Ruined Earth: Episode 2- The Terror of Isotope, Part 1

Session 2

The ACTUAL Beginning

While last session was a fun time, it was more of an introduction to Barbarians and shit than actually having an impact on the campaign. We began with the group rolling up characters and I introduced them to their village of Craterton.  A small ramshackle town of humans (mostly) that was constructed around the chunk of the fallen moon.  Craterton is in the Western Wastes, northeast of Nukatomi Plaza and is led by Maloon, an aging Terromancer who hung up her adventurer’s gear for a “quieter” life. 

Here’s what we ended up with:


Note: All these classes linked on my blog are the old versions and several changes have been made to the final product.

Angie- Isosceles the Sorcerer

Emma- Robbie the Robot

Nate- Pongo the Armadite

Sami- A Death Priest

Kevin- Short Round the Urban Urchin

Jamie- Kermie the Toad Beastman

Katie- Xena the Barbarian

Brian- A Vek

I’m a stupid jerk because I can’t remember Sami’s and Brian’s character names…

An Explosive Intro

I started off the session with showing the group a map of Craterton and let them talk to a few NPCs.  Then I described one of the guards clanging the alarm bell, stating there was a human woman running towards the town. 

The town of Craterton

Once the human female entered the village, she introduced herself as Ella.  She had managed to escape from the slave camp of the Sorcerer Isotope!  She was in the fields of the Snakemen village, picking the purple flowers of the Violet Cactus.  When pressed why she was picking flowers, “They are dried and used to create a compound that makes people have strange visions.  The Snakemen priests use them for their ceremonies and the slaves are giving some to keep them docile.” 

The group then asked about the more troubling matter, who was Isotpe.  Ella explained that Istope was a fiend.  He is a powerful Sorcerer that steals the life of people to keep himself young and healthy.  Ella knew it was only a matter of time before she was carted off to the holding cells in his Devastation Machine to be zapped of her lifeforce.  She planned and schemed and when a guard wasn’t looking, she managed to sneak away through the cactus fields and just ran.  Dying in the desert would be better than at the hands of that dastardly Sorcerer!

After Ella finished her story the guard clanged the bell again.  A band of motorcycles was making their way to the village!  In front was a Pig Raider!  Ella panicked, “Zeke!  He’s Isotope’s enforcer.  He’s found me.”

Marloon commanded the village to close the gate and get ready for a fight. 

Battle Time

I enjoy kicking off campaigns with a quick set up and jumping right into combat.  It’s a great way to introduce or refresh players to the mechanics as well as setting the tone for the whole campaign. 

The battle started off with the Zeke on his monster hog of a motorcycle, two other motorcycles, each with two raiders, and a ramshackle motorcycle with a single twitchy raider.  Zeke demanded the human returned to him and tribute be made to Isotope or else they’d burn the village down. 

With that we rolled initiative.  The group took pot shots at the raiders, but none were successful.  Zeke looked at the twitcy raider, “Alright, Duke!  You know what to do!”

Duke giggled and slapped his ramshackle motorcycle like a pony and charged the village wall.  The group tried to shoot Duke, but all missed.  Duke slammed into the wall and a massive explosion ripped through the village, destroying several buildings and killing roughly half the population (11 people total). 

Note: Not gonna lie- I love Mad Max: Fury Road and any change I get to put shit form that movie in a game- yeah- I’m gonna do it.

The group all found themselves lying on the ground, kissing dirt from the explosion.  The Death Priest was the first to get up.  She ran to the gaping hole in the wall and cast the Miracle Terrify (see below).

Terrify: The Death Priest channels the wrath of the dead, using the power of their words to cause unsettling fear in their enemies in a Nearby area. The Death Priest must successfully test their Charisma for each group of creatures they are attempting to rattle, adding the creatures’ HD to the roll. A GM will determine which creatures are in any particular group. Creatures that are Terrified by the Death Priest must spend all their movement (and convert actions to movement) to move away from the Death Priest for 2d4 rounds after being Terrified.

I decided that for simplicity, the enemies were all one group for Sami to test her Charisma against.  Aaaaaaannnndddd she rolled a 1.  So, the raiders shit their pants and Zeke squealed like a motherfucker, “Isotope won’t forget about this!  He’ll punish you!  I ain’t dying here!”  With that the baddies turned tail and ran, fleeing towards the west, in the direction of the Snakemen village. 

With that we ended the session.  I then placed a map in front of the group (see below) and said the area they live in is known and caravans have travelled to Craterton and have told stories about what’s around.  The notes on the map are to give enough info for the group to choose what they are interested in doing. 

Aside: My group and I only get to play once a month and our sessions usually only go for an hour and a half to three hours (sometimes thee and a half if we are extremely lucky), so I try to give as much info as possible to cut through the bullshit and preamble so we can get right to the action and fun.

I asked what the group wanted to do- and they decided they wanted to smash Isotope’s face in- so we ended with the group following Zeke’s motorcycle tracks. 

Next Session: Sneaking around the Snakemen village. 

Here’s the map, unlabeled. This is close to how it will appear in the book.